UP: Egypt witnesses sad Friday after Mar Mina church attack

Coptic Christians in Egypt have been under attack by extremist organisations in various incidents.

Islamist militants have said they were behind several attacks on Egypt's large Christian minority in recent years, including two bombings on Palm Sunday in April and a blast at Cairo's largest Coptic cathedral in December 2016 that killed 28 people.

Egypt's state-run MENA news agency quoted an official anonymously as informing that the attack in Helwan was perpetrated by two attackers.

The interior ministry said in a statement in the afternoon that it arrested an attacker who attempted to drive through security forces outside the church armed with a machinegun, ammunition and a bomb that he meant to detonate in the church. Authorities closed off the area around the church.

A gunman on a motorcycle opened fire outside the church and at a nearby store, sparking a shootout that killed at least nine people, including eight Coptic Christians, in the latest attack targeting the country's embattled Christian minority.

According to the BBC, Egyptian police patrolling near the church approached two men who were behaving suspiciously.

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Five people were wounded, including another police officer, Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed said.

Egyptian security officials say two policemen have been shot dead in an attack outside a church in a south Cairo suburb.

Also, the Italian Embassy in Egypt strongly condemned Friday's heinous attack in Helwan.

The so-called Islamic State group said it was behind the attack.

The attack claimed the lives of seven people, including one police conscript, and left four citizens wounded. The high death toll serves as a grim reminder of the difficulties of Egypt's struggle to restore security and stability after almost six years of turmoil following the 2011 uprising.

A bomb explodes in a Coptic Christian church in Alexandria as worshippers depart a midnight mass, killing more than 20 people.

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